Primary staff hit workload jackpot...

19th August 2005 at 01:00
... but secondary leaders must put in even longer hours. William Stewart reports.

Primary schools are reaping the greatest benefits from workforce reforms as working hours for secondary heads, deputies and assistants soar, official figures reveal.

Headteachers in primaries are now working two hours and 42 minutes less than they were last year, while the number of hours their teachers work have been cut by an hour and 36 minutes.

The average working week for a primary head is 52 hours 54 minutes - almost 10 hours shorter than their secondary counterparts. And almost three hours less than primary deputies.

Figures from the School Teachers' Review Body show that secondary heads have the longest week - their hours have risen from 60 hours 48 minutes last year to 62 hours 36 minutes. But their deputies and assistants have seen the biggest increase in work, with a four-hour hike to a weekly average of 58 hours and six minutes.

The figures are based on a snapshot survey of 2,080 teaching staff, carried out in March. It shows slight cuts in hours for secondary and special school teachers.

The findings come a year after teachers were supposedly relieved of 20 administrative tasks. They will come as a relief to the signatories of the 2003 workforce deal.

Last year's poll, the first since the introduction of the first phase of the agreement in September 2003, revealed that the hours worked by primary heads and classroom teachers had risen.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "The changes are beginning to have the desired effect on workload."

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said he did not doubt the poll's accuracy but said that it did not tally with messages from primary heads. They said that providing cover for the 10 per cent non-contact time had increased their workload.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said his members had always had the biggest workload because of the size and complexity of their schools. Recent changes such as the new inspection regime had only increased it.

The survey shows that all teachers spent at least an average of 5.7 per cent of their week on general administration. The figure rose to 10.2 per cent for primary teachers, down from 11.9 per cent last year.

Next month, the final phase of the deal is supposed to free up a tenth of teachers' working week to give them time for planning, preparation and assessment. The survey found that staff already spend much more of their week on such duties. In March, primary, secondary and special school staff spent an average of 27.6, 29.6 and 24.3 per cent, respectively, on preparation and marking. All the figures were up on last year.

A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said workforce reforms were turning the tide on teacher workload.


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